The French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a killer. It’s based on a true story and is one of those films you know you should see because you’ll be better for it, but that you know will be two hours of hell. It’s told from the perspective of a man paralyzed by a stroke and trapped in a rare “locked-in” condition; he can see out of one eye and can hear, but communication is frustrating and limited. Yet, he manages to (stop reading if you don’t want to know) speak through a system of blinking developed by his speech therapist that is almost as frustrating to watch. OK, there’s no comparison. This guy had it worse, but the film does such an amazing job of putting you in his body that you have a realistic glimmer of his struggle. And a glimmer is all you need to know that if faced with the same situation, you’d probably roll over and die.
Unbelievably, the man painstakingly blinks out a book about his life, managing to express that while he is trapped in his body, his mind is free. This accomplishment makes anyone else’s attempt at writing evermore seem frivolous and meaningless.
I left the theater appreciating the precision of words and language like never before but at the same time wanting to talk non-stop, to overwrite, to waste words— because I could.